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Holla Back: What Can We Say Other Than Whack?

July 9, 2012

Welcome to “Holla Back”, where we respond to reader questions and comments. We love receiving feedback from readers and we encourage you to keep it coming!

Darren, from Canada, sent us the following question via email: Read more…


Music Monday: The N-Word and How We Talk About Hip Hop

July 2, 2012

Rapper Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow

Awkward experiences with the N-word occur frequently, especially in the realm of hip-hop. Imagine this: you’re singing “Forget You” by Cee-Lo Green at karaoke with your friends, and you come to this part:

“Oh sh** she’s a gold digger, just thought you should know ni**a”.

The N-Word has the power to stop anyone’s karaoke jam in its tracks. What’s a music lover to do? Mumble something else? Forget the word entirely? Laugh it off? Read more…

Happy Juneteenth!

June 18, 2012

Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in Texas in 1865. Nowadays, it is observed as a celebration of African-American heritage and traditions across the United States.

Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, many slaves were not immediately freed due to resistance by slave owners in the Confederate states. Read more…

Holla Back: Responding to Your Comments

June 18, 2012

Holla Back is a new segment where we’ll be responding to reader questions and comments. We appreciate all the great feedback we receive from readers and encourage you to keep it coming!

On “Why Would You Study that Bad English”:

Commenter Stan writes, Read more…

Music Monday: Raising the Roof and More

May 28, 2012

Adam Levine from Maroon 5 with Wiz Khalifa, performing on “The Voice”.

“Where Have You Been” by Rihanna is this week’s new entry in the Top 10 on the Billboard Charts. This week’s hot summer songs have a lot of African American English (AAE) features yet to be explored. Particularly noticeable this week is AAE being featured alongside Standard American English (SAE) in songs that combine both hip-hop and rock elements.

Let’s look at the lyrics:

Read more…

Monday Music on Memorial Day: Swagalicious Countdown

May 28, 2012

Janelle Monae and the band Fun., composed of Jack Antonoff, Andrew Dos, and Nate Ruess.

African American English (AAE) ushers in the holiday week, popping up all over the Billboard Charts. These top ten hits seem to be playing with AAE vocabulary, like swag, and tense-marking-suffixes. Check out some samples of the African American English features in these chart-topping songs:

Read more…

The Promise that is Nadia

April 3, 2012
I Am a Promise

Nadia, top left, pictured in cap.

To speak about African American English is to also speak about the children and the communities who speak this language. The Academy Award winning 1993 feature film,  I Am A Promise, documents one year in the life of African American children attending Stanton Elementary School, an elementary school in urban Philadelphia.

The film opens with the following information:

“Stanton Elementary School is located in North Philadelphia, a troubled inner city neighborhood. Stanton is designated a Chapter One School which receives federal funds to help educate disadvantaged poor children who test below national norms in reading and math. All of the students are African American boys and girls between the ages of four and ten. At Stanton over 90% of the children come from single-parent homes and live in poverty.”

Read more…